Building momentum for NHRIs in the Pacific
Graphic: Group shot of participants at the Pacific roundtable meeting in Suva
Regional governments and donor bodies have considered the recent progress to establish NHRIs in the Pacific and the support they need to thrive.
A meeting of regional governments and donor bodies has considered the recent progress to establish national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Pacific and the types of support they need to thrive.
In the past 12 months there have been positive steps to establish NHRIs in the Cook Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Tuvalu.
In 2017, the Parliament of Tuvalu passed legislation to establish an NHRI as part of an expanded Ombuds Office.
Consultations – led by the APF and the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC-RRRT) – have been held in the other countries to discuss the steps involved to establish an independent NHRI.
In April 2018, the Ombudsman of Tuvalu visited his counterparts in Samoa to learn more about the practical work of NHRIs to promote and protect human rights. This study visit was supported by the APF and SPC-RRRT.
The roundtable meeting – held in Suva, Fiji, on 27 April 2018 – included representatives from Fiji, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Samoa and Tuvalu.
They were joined by development partners from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the European Union, the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the UN Resident Coordinator's Office and the U.S. Embassy.
The discussions considered the positive role that NHRIs can play to promote and protect human rights and the different types of NHRI "models" that can be adopted, in recognition of the growing interest in the establishment of NHRIs by Pacific Island countries and territories.
As RRRT Director Miles Young noted: "Pacific Island countries should lead the establishment of NHRIs in their countries. They are best placed to understand their human rights priorities and how to achieve them."
Graphic: Ashwin Raj (Fiji NHRI) and Miles Young (SPC-RRRT) at the roundtable meeting
Participants acknowledged the value of the partnership between RRRT, APF and OHCHR to facilitate these discussions at the national level and to promote dialogue across the region, as highlighted by the recent peer learning exchange involving the NHRIs of Samoa and Tuvalu.
The roundtable also identified practical opportunities – and challenges – for development partners to contribute in a coordinated way to this process to support and promote the establishment of NHRIs across the Pacific.
The roundtable was convened by the SPC-RRRT and the Australian High Commission, Fiji, and held in partnership with the APF and OHCHR.
Date: 7 May 2018
- Group shot of participants at the Pacific roundtable meeting in Suva - SPC-RRRT
- Ashwin Raj (Fiji NHRI) and Miles Young (SPC-RRRT) at the roundtable meeting - SPC-RRT